LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan House panel voted 11-0 Thursday to approve bills that could lead to an overhaul of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
The panel left out anti-abortion provisions that torpedoed an earlier effort to change the status of the state’s largest health insurer.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, R, has made overhauling Michigan Blue a top priority, but he voted overhaul legislation in late December 2012 because of concerns about the abortion provisions in that package.
The state Senate approved the new Blue Cross bills, Senate Bill 61 and Senate Bill 62, in late January.
The deletion of the anti-abortion provisions could clear the way for the bills to reach Snyder’s desk soon.
House Republicans last year tried to prevent insurance plans from covering elective abortions unless women bought a supplemental policy.
Snyder said he approved of the idea of imposing that requirement on the health plans that would be sold in the new exchanges, or health insurance supermarkets, to be created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
But Snyder said he objected to the idea of applying the anti-abortion coverage restrictions to private plans. He also vetoed the measure because it would not have allowed base health plans to cover abortions of pregnancies resulting from rape, incest and the health of the woman.
An amendment to bar insurance coverage for abortion — with exceptions for rape, incest and a woman’s health — was circulated Wednesday. No House Insurance Committee members proposed the amendment before Thursday’s vote.
Ed Rivet, legislative director for Right to Life of Michigan, wrote a letter to the committee’s Republican chairman on Thursday expressing the group’s “strongest opposition” to the draft amendment. Right to Life opposes exceptions for rape, incest, and the group had concerns about vague language making the legislation vulnerable to legal challenges, he said.
“The original effort to put this in the Blues bills was not our idea,” Rivet said in a phone interview. “We weren’t opposed to it. But it’s never been our insistence.”